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Anand Wins Brilliancy vs Caruana; Carlsen Defeats So

Anand Wins Brilliancy vs Caruana; Carlsen Defeats So

Both Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand won their games in 29 moves in the fifth round of the Sinquefield Cup, but for once, all eyes weren't on the champ. It was Anand's scintillating takedown of Fabiano Caruana that wowed the spectators and fans as he produced a stunning combination that will surely grace a collection of his greatest games.

Headline photo: Lennart Ootes, Grand Chess Tour.

For Magnus Carlsen, his victory against Wesley So proved fairly straightforward after So lost his way and allowed Carlsen to grab a not-so-poisoned pawn on b2. After a disastrous loss to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave yesterday, today could not have been more perfectly scripted for Carlsen. His victory against So, in conjunction with Anand's victory against Caruana, secured the Norwegian a 19-point gap over number two (still Caruana) in the live rating lists.

As it turned out, if you weren't winning in 29 moves, you weren't winning. Ian Nepomniachtchi came very close to a win against Sergey Karjakin, but the Minister of Defense once again lived up to his stoic moniker, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Levon Aronian created chaos on board, but they also found that the resulting endgame was drawn. Nakamura created chances against Svidler, but that endgame too proved drawn.

Getting to the game of the day, it seemed out of the opening likely that Caruana and not Anand would win a tactical brilliancy as he centralized his pieces and created dangerous threats. Anand neatly sidestepped, but then Caruana attempted a pawn sacrifice in response to Anand's f4. As it turned out, the sacrifice was based on a miscalculation as Caruana had missed some stunning tactics after 22.exf6.

The most deadly move Caruana missed proved to be the stunning 26.Qd4!!, a move which set Twitter and the broadcast afire with shouts of acclaim.



Anand seemed almost giddy when played the beautiful Qd4!! | Photo: Austin Fuller, Grand Chess Tour.

Like Anand, Carlsen too seemed destined for problems out of the opening. So played 19.Bf4?, the key mistake in a very favorable position, almost instantly. Carlsen was shocked but concluded that he was duty-bound to grab the pawn and when later he lost c3, So threw in the towel.


So seems to be struggling to regain his incredible 2016 form. | Photo: Lennart Ootes, Grand Chess Tour.

Early in the opening, it looked like Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs Levon Aronian might well be the game of the day. The players played aggressively and creatively with 19.Ra3! from Vachier-Lagrave being particularly interesting. Both players described the resulting position as an odd mutual zugzwang.

As the tactics exploded, Vachier-Lagrave acquired two pieces for Aronian's rook, but the rook proved to be quite good, and the endgame proved balanced.


A game with two protagonists. | Photo: Lennart Ootes, Grand Chess Tour.

A draw between two friends might usually be a fairly affable result, but Nepomniachtchi seemed quite despondent afterward that he wasn't able to collect a full point from his extremely promising position against Sergey Karjakin. Karjakin innovated in the opening with Bd3-e2, mysteriously moving a piece twice in the opening, but then he confessed he forgot the idea of the move!

Consequently, "Nepo" equalized soon after and pressed for more. It's not easy to say if he was ever winning, but it was certainly close, and it took the defensive skills of Karjakin to fend off defeat.


Good defense starts with the stare. | Photo: Lennart Ootes, Grand Chess Tour.

Finally, the game between Hikaru Nakamura and Peter Svidler saw the Russian grandmaster get into a bit of trouble against the American grandmaster after he missed the double attack resulting from 22.Be4. However, as round three showed, pawns don't equal points, and the advantage was never decisive.


Nakamura afterwards said it was common for Svidler to play a pawn down with some activity. | Photo: Austin Fuller, Grand Chess Tour.

The players have a rest day after this round before the action resumes on Tuesday with many exciting matches include Carlsen vs Nakamura (always entertaining) and Caruana vs Vachier-Lagrave (always a Najdorf).



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